Commentary

To the U.S. Soccer Federation . . . In Anger

My congratulations to the United States Soccer Federation. The ignorance, the arrogance, the bias, the total lack of awareness, the smugness, to say nothing of the abysmal failure to do what it is supposed to do, are now revealed as way beyond anything that I believed possible.

The facts in Mike Woitalla’s article expose what is going on in Chicago. Those facts tell of an anti-Hispanic bias of extreme ugliness, something that everyone who is in any way associated with the Federation must be deeply ashamed of.

Briefly: last October U.S. Soccer, under its new President Carlos Cordeiro, announced the formation of a Task Force to look into youth soccer. Nine original members were announced; during the months that followed more members were appointed. Today the total number of members is 59. Not one of them, not a single one of them, is a Latino male.

We could say that this phantom president Cordeiro qualifies in that category. Not for me he doesn’t. Cordeiro might as well be from Borneo for all his attention to the Hispanic issue.

So how is it possible for this nationwide organization to go searching for experts involved in youth soccer ... and to fail to recruit even one Latino?

The mere fact that such an outrageous thing can happen simply beggars belief. There is massive involvement of young Hispanics in youth soccer. How could the Federation experts miss that point?

Miss it they did. Or did they? I do not believe that they “missed” it. I believe that they know about it. Which means that they either are not interested in it, or that they do not believe it to be of any importance, or that they actively oppose it.

Those are increasingly ugly explanations. After at least a couple of decades of trying to promote the vital importance of the -- growing -- Hispanic contribution to the growth of American soccer, I can only say that what was left of the various illusions I may have entertained along the way have now been brutally stripped away.

The stats revealed by Woitalla are not only unacceptable, they are utterly disgraceful, a dark stain on the Federation, which is exposed as totally incapable of doing its job. There are no excuses that can be offered that will dilute this blemish, this revelation that we have a Federation that is actively discriminating against American Hispanics, that is deliberately keeping them out of influential appointments.

These Federation experts must already know what Woitalla mentions: that nearly 40 percent of the boys involved in the various Federation national teams from U-14 to U-20 are Latinos. And how many Hispanic coaches does U.S. Soccer employ? One. The estimable Tab Ramos. When the U-17 job became available recently, it went to an obscure Swiss, with no particularly obvious suitability for the job.

The Federation could, of course, regret that no American-Hispanic coaches were to be found. That may even be true -- but the reason is clear: because the Federation does nothing to promote them.

In the face of this damning evidence, not only of incompetence, but of active discrimination, the leaders of this crippled Federation could do all of us, and the sport in the USA, a huge favor by resigning to make way for people who know the ground-level facts of the Hispanic contribution to youth soccer.

The Federation needn’t bother trying to explain how its experts managed assemble that 60-member Task Force on youth soccer without considering any Hispanics. Something that is just not possible without a hefty dose of bias in the selection process. The absence of Latino coaches in the Federation is further confirmation that an evil spirit of anti-Hispanic discrimination pervades the corridors in Chicago.

Of course, there has been plenty of guff from the Federation over the years about diversity. The Task Force even includes a “Diversity” sub-group. We know, now, with absolute certainty, that nothing worthwhile can be expected from them.

During the years that I have been complaining about the sort of bias that Woitalla has now so tellingly exposed, there have been a number of aspects that I have considered but never written about. For instance: should the Hispanic soccer community, so obviously being slighted, break away to form its own Federacion ? But that has always seemed too drastic a step.

Now, I’m not so sure. The depth of the discrimination that Latinos face is now revealed by this worthless -- worse, biased and therefore damaging -- youth Task Force. Something else I have touched on only briefly before, is the lack of initiative shown by the Hispanic soccer community itself.

This is a squalid story. Inevitably, plenty of honorable and good people are embroiled in it. But every one of these Task Force members ought to know the truth about the burgeoning importance of young Hispanic players. They are, after all, presumably experts? Every one of them ought to be surveying their colleagues ... and asking themselves “Why are there no Hispanics?” But that is evidently a questioning attitude that doesn’t exist at the Federation.

Make no mistake. This is a sick Federation. There is no way that it can explain away the discrimination that the composition of the Task Force reveals. This is not a small committee -- this is a nationwide assembly of some 60 youth soccer experts. And it is an absolute disgrace. A slap in the face, a slamming of the door, a blatant exhibition of disrespect toward Hispanic soccer players -- indeed, toward the whole Hispanic community.

I have been covering soccer throughout the world for over 50 years, paying particular attention to youth soccer. To say I am disappointed with U.S. Soccer’s attitude does not begin to describe my feelings. I am totally disgusted. This imbroglio of the Youth Task Force is so much more than an embarrassment. It is by far the nastiest example of calculated ignorance and arrogance that I have encountered in the sport.

To the U.S. Soccer Federation ... shame on you!

41 comments about "To the U.S. Soccer Federation . . . In Anger".
  1. R2 Dad, September 7, 2019 at 12:03 a.m.

    "should the Hispanic soccer community, so obviously being slighted, break away to form its own Federacion ? "
    This is an excellent idea, as long as it's not configured the same way USSF is (effectively controlled by coaches and clubs).

  2. Wallace Wade, September 7, 2019 at 10:25 a.m.

    Totally agree! The Hispanic players should not break away and form a new Federation, ALL the disenfranchised players and Clubs should break away and start a new Federation. The USSF and USMNT has had a “Country Club” atmosphere for decades. This article rightly points out that fact. 

  3. Bob Ashpole, September 7, 2019 at 10:41 a.m.

    This is not intended to be a committee of youth soccer experts seeking to promote youth soccer. It is a committee intended to promote the youth soccer industry. That explains why Hispanics were not appointed. 

  4. Alejandro Cabero replied, September 10, 2019 at 1:37 a.m.

    I will Pretend you are right: Could you explain why Hispanic cant be involved in the promotion of youth soccer industry?

  5. Bob Ashpole replied, September 10, 2019 at 5:58 a.m.

    "Can't" is not the correct word. The explanation is in the tug between property and people, USSF is protecting property interests of the soccer industry. The interests of soccer participants--the players in this case--are secondary to USSF.

    Don't assume that I agree with USSF.

  6. Gordon Holt, September 7, 2019 at 11:01 a.m.

    ....but who besides the readers of little Soccer America will hear about this? 

  7. Ric Fonseca replied, September 7, 2019 at 2:49 p.m.

    TO PAUL GARDNER:  MUCHSIMAS GRACIAS!!!

    NOW, THE WAY TO GET IT OUT MORE BROADLY, SEND THE ARTICLE TO NEWSPAPERS, FOR EXAMPLE LA OPNION OF LOS ANGELES, AND OTHER MAJOR CITIES, E.G. NEW YORK, DENVER, DALLAS, CHICAGO, SAN FRANCISCO, HOUSTON,  ETC.  

    PERHAPS EVEN MIKE WOITALLA OUGHT TO CONTACT KEVIN BAXTER OF THE L.S. TIMES, OR SCOTT FRENCH, ETC.  AND LASTLY, WHY DOESN'T SOMEONE TRANSLATES THE ARTICLE????!!!

  8. Bob Ashpole replied, September 7, 2019 at 6:25 p.m.

    We can start by sharing the article on social media.

  9. Elizan Morales, September 7, 2019 at 11:24 a.m.

    Paul...what a shame indeed.  :-(

  10. Derek Mccracken, September 7, 2019 at 11:30 a.m.

    Great commentary by Gardner. I posted these same comments to Woitalla's article:


     


    Regarding the article, the lack of change to this "good ol' boys" network that is the USSF, kind of like an impossible-to-penetrate mafia, is why I feel the USMNT won’t see the significant improvement we all hope to see for decades to come. US Soccer's love affair with anyone with a variety of UK accents is discouraging and nauseating. The fact that the USSF continues to shun our country’s fast-growing, soccer-loving, Hispanic population is incredible irresponsible and short-sighted.


     


    As long as US Soccer’s principal aim is to grow soccer, and recruit, mostly within the suburban, middle class & upper middle class, population, we are doomed to continue to be a mediocre men’s national team program. This was evidenced by the drubbing we received from our most bitter rival last night which played with a wonderful Hispanic flair, while our defenders and some midfielders, who seemed to be playing with “all thumbs”, looked incredibly uncomfortable with the ball at their feet. The USSF should be incredibly embarrassed by this performance. It’s clear that, while Mexico is greatly improved, the USMNT has taken several steps backwards.


     


    From what this article points out, it also seems as though USSF leadership, comprised mostly of Americans with European lineage, is satisfied with our mediocre status quo and not interested in change. It’s apparent that this organization is more interested in cronyism & protecting their jobs than making necessary changes which would lead to rapid and vast improvement of our USMNT program.

  11. Peter Bechtold replied, September 7, 2019 at 11:38 a.m.

    @Derek M.: Well put. Perhaps you recall that Juergen Klinsmann insisted on having demographic diversity in our player pool reflecting especially the many Hispanic communities,but also African-Americans. He wanted to be Technical Director rather than head coach, given his experience of playing at the Champions League level in 4 different countries and then living for 2 decades in multi-cultural Greater LA.

  12. humble 1 replied, September 11, 2019 at 11:31 p.m.

    Just as Klinsman was signed signed a latino American friend of mine told me - 'watch he will cut all ties to latinos in soccer'.  Look at the team he took to Brazil, one player with roots to Chile, one Mexican American, and something like seven naturalized Germans.  Klinsman era is something of a watershed in the pivot away from latino soccer players and coaches at youth and mens national level.

  13. Peter Bechtold, September 7, 2019 at 11:30 a.m.

    Good arguments all. However, breaking away and forming your own association--while being typically American in many endeavours--is unlikely to work. FIFA accepts only one representative per country and will insist that the USA sort out its internal issues before allowing its players and teams to continue in int'l tournaments.
    This has happened before in some African countries where players were striking against their FAs, and ,truth be told, those Africans had much more serious claims than we have over here.

  14. Kent James replied, September 8, 2019 at 12:21 a.m.

    Excellent point.  In addition, too often we want to start anew rather than fixing something that's broken.  We need to fix this.

  15. beautiful game, September 7, 2019 at 12:09 p.m.

    USSF 'good olde boy culture' is a cancer to soccer progress...the revolving door keeps revolving and youth development is stagnant. USSF reinvention is long time begging.

  16. Alvaro Bettucchi, September 7, 2019 at 12:58 p.m.

    What else is new?  Discrimination, in one form or another, has been a living part of this country since it's beginning. As an Italian American, our ethnic group continues to stepped upon, look at Columbus, Father Serra, etc. The Federation has always been in the hands of the few, that want to continue holding the power strings. Our national team has a good mixture, we have up-coming outstanding players, but we need to get a major "hispanic or European" coach (like the Italians coaches in England), to completely change the total hold the local group has on our soccer.  Tthe San Jose Earthquakes as an example.  How they have improved, when they got a successful HISPANIC coach!To break away and have two federations, I say "NO"! But for the good of this sport, something needs to happen real soon, or we are going to suffer for it! 

  17. Harry Hutcheson, September 7, 2019 at 1:01 p.m.

    The problem is that US Soccer is trying to ascertain how they can get in on the multi-million dollar youth market.  The low-cost Latino leagues are not of their concern.  With DA catering to MLS clubs on the boys side, and ECNL and DA battling it out on the girls side. There is no place for Latino clubs to advance.  The almighty dollar is what fuels US Soccer.  Perhaps if we truly scouted Nationwide and financed the players with the surplus US Soccer has in its coffers we could advance as a nation.

  18. Seth Vieux replied, September 10, 2019 at 12:37 p.m.

    Bingo

  19. Paul Cuadros, September 7, 2019 at 2:35 p.m.

    Simply terrible. I've been coaching all-Latino youth high school soccer players for the past 18 years and Gardner knows me and what I think of US soccer development and its pay for play system. This does not surprise me as the power interest seek only money and promotion within the world they have created. This is how institutional racism begins and gets built. It is not open. It is not inclusive even when there are so many experts around the world that could contribute their knowledge but no--we'll stick to a Eurocentric English-speaking only pool for coaches and leaders ignoring the very hemisphere and the experts that exist here.

  20. Jogo Bonito, September 7, 2019 at 4:52 p.m.

    I used to love it when PG gets angry because I was entertained by his humorous sarcasm and clear knowledge of the subject he was critiquing. But I’m not loving it as much because it’s becoming nin laughing matter. This is a serious issue Mike Woitalla and now Paul have responded to. Maybe our federation need a FIFA style house cleaning.  

  21. Ben Myers, September 7, 2019 at 6:29 p.m.

    One suggestion to give this article its well-deserved exposure, at least on-line.  Whatever Soccer America has to do to make this article widely available on-line and not just SA for subscribers, DO IT!  We can then carry the ball or, better still, dribble it to all corners of on-line access.  I would expect this to create a groundswell of outcry against the USSF.

    My son lives in and officiates a lot in TX, and he sees, time and again, predominantlty Hispanic TX high school teams compete well with the teams from the burbs full of pay-for-play kids.

    Time to attack another pocket of rampant discrimination, the USSF!

  22. Derek Mccracken replied, September 8, 2019 at 11:36 a.m.

    I would suggest that readers take the link to Gardner's commentary, and to Woitalla's article, and plaster them all over social media. Put these links on Twitter, on Facebook, on Instagram, etc. Go the USSF's sites, to FIFA's sites, etc. for all of these social media outlets and post it on there as well. Make sure you tag U.S. Soccer so anyone searching for them will also be led to  your tag. 

    Even consider placing the add on commentary sections, and social media sites, of big media sites like Washington Post, NYT, WSJ, LA Times, Chicago Trib, CNN, Fox, etc.

    The only thing that will move this U.S. Soccer mafia is embarassment on a very wide scale. We can all do our part by distributing the links far and wide

  23. Larry Chen, September 7, 2019 at 7:26 p.m.

    Would you agree that all the “action” is occurring in the MLS based USSDA clubs?
    then, it would be interesting to see the data compiled & exhibited.

  24. Kevin Leahy, September 7, 2019 at 8:52 p.m.

    What an embarrassment! All theses people need to be removed. How the academies were broken down was't bad enough they, make it ten times worse. If FIFA was't as bad they would move in and dismantle the whole organization. It is impossible to believe that it is 2019 and this culture still exists in a national organization such as this!!!

  25. Ben Myers, September 7, 2019 at 11:12 p.m.

    Let me add that a slightly toned down (I said "slightly") might be accepted as an op-ed in the NY Times or Washington Post or maye another major printed newspaper.  The USSF would then have serious difficulty avoiding the issue.

  26. Peter Mehlert, September 7, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.

    Wow! I have no idea that this shameful, shocking, & biased practice has been ongoing - the selection of 59 members of such a task force, & not a single one is Hispanic! I just cannot fathom it. I have over the years disagreed with some of Paul Gardner’s writing. In this case & in this day & age, such a decision by USSF reeks of racism behind the scene. I would stand by & with Paul Gardner, if indeed it is as reported. Btw, Who are the ones who selected this 59 member task force. Let’s do it right, & clean it up.

  27. Kent James, September 8, 2019 at 12:25 a.m.

    PG can be a curmudgeon (and I say that it as positive a way I can, because I ALWAYS enjoy reading his rants), but on this one he is spot on.  His anger is justified.

  28. Ric Fonseca replied, September 8, 2019 at 2:50 p.m.

    Folks:  I have knwon Mr. Gardner at least since the very early 1970's when my graduate university - UCLA - brokeinto the university-collegiate scene together with other West coast teams, USF, UC Berkeley, San Jose State, and he PG, would write some pretty good articles, extolling the skills of the oft-foreign student dominated teams while also lauding the likes of the Billikens of St. Louis University, Indiana Univ., etc.  Granted his writing were ascerbic yetinformative and continue to be at times boring and humorous, and very carmudgeonlike.  And yet, his minute attention to the Latino soccer players, and he covered the rise of several, and continued praise for theire overall skill is to be lauded and praise.  I too, at times cringe at some of his articles, but I do take my hat off to him and give him a great big GRACIAS AMIGO together with another GRACIAS MIKE for breaching this subject.  As for the current ussf president, sorry, indeed, he is a fanthom president, and while I fell out of favor from Gulati, I just cannot see myself to say that cordeiro can be categorized Latino or Hispanic, or whatever.  I'd consider Hank Steinbrecher and Alan Rothenberg more Latinos than the current presidente.  As I said before, I am here, been ready to roll up my sleeves for the past forty years, and I ain't going anywhere.  Lastly and again;  MUCHISIMAS GRACIAS MI DISTINGUIDO COLEGA Y AMIGO!!!

  29. James Madison, September 8, 2019 at 8:25 p.m.

    Now let's watch and see whether any of the members of this task force have enough self-respect to protest its composition by being unwilling to serve unless the group is disbanded and reconstituted.  No addition of Hispanic members as a "token" should be accepted.

  30. Michael Saunders, September 9, 2019 at 9:57 a.m.

    SPOT ON GORDON HOLT !!!    This story needs to be provided to all media outlets.   The USSF election in 2018  was hotly contested with many promises made to address this issue and others.  Where is the accountability?

    Do we have the names of those that are on the task force?   Their affiliation?   How many women have been assigned to it?    I could go on ...... Thanks Paul G. for for being the "conscience" for the sport!!!   

    Attn:  PAUL KENNEDY ..... Please seek to have this article diurtibuted.  Thanks

  31. Ed Shaw, September 9, 2019 at 12:54 p.m.

    Paul's commentary is excellent. Having just read "The National Team" about the USWNT and the exceptionally terrible treatment of women by the USSF over many decades, it is very sad that the USSF again appears to be engaged in outright discrimination against another "minority" group.

  32. John Bauman, September 9, 2019 at 1:14 p.m.

    -then we should also know how many white and blacks are on the committee so that they can split up and have a BSF (Black Soccer Federation) and a WSF  (White Soccer Federation.)  What about the LGBT,etc. folks? I have probably missed some sectors? Somehow the Primier League and and all the others around the world get along.  Only in America is this devisiveness apparent!.  I think we all know the answer.  

  33. Ruth Nicholson, September 9, 2019 at 2:58 p.m.

    Mr. Gardner - 

    Privilege is invisible to those who have it.

    Your article mentions Hispanic male representation and male players more than once. Yes, they should be represented.

    AND

    What about Hispanic females? Why are they left out of your tirade?

    If we are going to advocate for diversity and inclusion, let's make sure that gender is also on the list, regardless of ethnicity.


  34. Kent James replied, September 9, 2019 at 3:01 p.m.

    You make an excellent point.  You see even fewer Hispanic women in US soccer (both the organization and on the field).

  35. Ric Fonseca, September 9, 2019 at 5:21 p.m.

    Mr. James:  You "see, actually," this has not escaped many folks, and SA has also addressed the issue. I could, write  chapter and verse about this particukar topic, and perhaps I will in another post, but I must caution you that there is a helluva lot but suffice to say, having been on the scene just before Title IX, during and after, and now very much aware and attuned to the increase of more Latina/Hispanic female soccer players I will start by first thanking none other than former Mexican Mexican NT member, Leonardo Cuellar, who coached at Cal St Univ Los Angeles, then went back to Mexico where he launched - or was one of the ones - a national Maeican movement for the introduction and expansion as well as the nascent Mexican Womens Professional League, that in turn has helped in the rise and increase in more Mexican/Latina/Hispnic young girls, ladies and - yes, amigos - young mothers playing the sport!  There I've laid the "foundation" for others to look into, and perhaps even contribute some stories....  

  36. Rookie NY, September 9, 2019 at 6:31 p.m.

    Dan Flynn just stepped down as chief executive of US Soccer. No idea if the timing is coincidental, but it did make it into the NT Times. 
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/09/sports/soccer/us-soccer-dan-flynn-chief-executive.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fsoccer&action=click&contentCollection=soccer&region=stream&module=stream_unit&version=latest&contentPlacement=1&pgtype=sectionfront

  37. Bob Ashpole replied, September 9, 2019 at 10:16 p.m.

    USSF announced Flynn's anticipated retirement a year ago.

  38. Right Winger, September 9, 2019 at 10:03 p.m.

    This can’t be repaired by replacing  one or two people.  There has to be a complete housecleaning and if by chance 1 baby gets thrown out with the bath water let it be.  The right thing to do would be a mass resignation.

    when Cardeiro was made president everyone on here gasped.  An in house person leading a less than effective pack of inept rubber stamps.  This is what you get.

    Is this the reason Tab Ramos is not MNT COACH.

    LAST ONE OUT TURN OUT THE LIGHTS,

  39. Bob Ashpole, September 10, 2019 at 6:05 a.m.

    If you don't like this article, you are going to hate the latest article--

    https://www.socceramerica.com/publications/article/83576/landon-donovan-addresses-latino-exclusion-from-us.html

    "This year, players in the men’s youth national team program, from U-14 to U-20, are about 40% Latino. But U-20 head coach Tab Ramos is the only Latino head coach in the program. He also serves as Youth Technical Director, but Grant Wahl reported in SI.com that according to sources, 'Ramos hasn’t been involved in any federation youth strategy planning over the past 12 months.' Moreover, Earnie Stewart, the newly promoted U.S. Soccer Sporting Director, now in charge of the men's and women's national team programs from youth on up, equivocated when asked what about Ramos' future role with U.S. Soccer."

  40. Fred Lowe, September 13, 2019 at 5:13 p.m.

    To the degree these are wealthier white men - many of whom I’m sure are Republicans - what else can we conclude but racism - which their Party leader has infected the entire Party with.....

  41. Bob Ashpole replied, September 13, 2019 at 10:17 p.m.

    This problem has a long history. It isn't something that started in 2016.

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